Don Cossack win puts him firmly in RSA Chase picture
Don Cossack leapt to the head of the RSA Chase betting with his win at Fairyhouse on Sunday.
The Grade One Drinmore Novice Chase was one of several enthralling contests on a fine day of jumps racing in Ireland and there were several noteworthy performances.
However Gordon Elliott’s winner took the top-prize thanks to a good round of jumping.
The six-year-old – ridden by Davy Russell – jumped slightly left at some of his obstacles but that won’t hinder his chances when going left-handed at Cheltenham in March.
He is now 10/1 (from 16s) for the RSA Chase and looks likely to be suited by that longer three mile trip.
Bet on Don Cossack to win the RSA Chase at 10/1
Russell gave his mount a patient ride and a bold leap at the final fence enabled him to hit the ground running and surge to a one-and-three-quarter length win over Carlingford Lough.
The runner-up – who won the Galway Plate in July despite being a novice – is a stout stayer and the form appears to have a solid look to it at first glance.
However John Kiely’s seven-year-old hasn’t been the most frequent of winners over fences and time may show that Don Cossack’s victory wasn’t as good as it first appears.
Gordon Elliott said “I was a bit worried when he came off it [the bridle] turning in but in fairness he battled and jumped and that’s what you want.
“It was a relief because he might not have looked the best battle in the world before now but he was good today.”
Don Cossack has never raced outside of Ireland in 11 starts
Plans are fluid for the son of Sholokhov but the horse’s most emphatic performances have come on very testing ground so the weather may dictate where he heads to next.
The RSA is run over an extra half a mile which would appear to suit when looking at his running style.
But the Cheltenham contest is not won by horses on the bridle but those who are brave enough to battle on up the hill when all of the others have cried enough.
Whether that is Don Cossack remains to be seen.
However Elliott knows what sort of horse is needed; he trained Jessies Dream to win the Drinmore before he was a close second in the RSA Chase.
Don Cossack’s Drinmore Novice Chase win was his sixth career success
Gigginstown Stud – led by Ryanair supremo Michael O’Leary – own Road To Riches as well as the winner Don Cossack.
Road To Riches was ridden by Paul Carberry and the jockey looked confident with half a mile to run.
But the Noel Meade-trained six-year-old could find no answer as the front two surged past him between the final two fences.
The son of Gamut was well-beaten in last season’s Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Chelteham Festival but this was a very good run on just his second start over fences.
He could be ridden with more restraint in the future and the former point-to-point winner is 33/1 for the RSA Chase.